Olympic Weekend - London – July 2012

In the great Olympic Ticket Lottery earlier this year I applied for lots of tickets all over London.  The one event I got a ticket for was the Archery session on Saturday afternoon 28th July.  I have to confess I was little bit miffed to only get a ticket to this one event, and at the one Olympic venue (Lord’s Cricket Ground) I’d already been too, and to be honest until fairly recently I wasn’t really looking forward to the event.

Maybe I was falling into the media-driven trap of thinking that the organisation wouldn’t be good, the transport won’t work, London would be too crowded and the weather would be rubbish.

I really couldn’t have been more wrong.  I had a fantastic day in London on Saturday – the place was heaving with people, but everyone seemed to have a smile on their face.  The staff from Southwest Trains offered me an ice-cream as I stepped off the train.  The Olympic volunteers were brilliant – about 10% of the London population seems to have an Olympic badge and they really did make London seem like a fantastically welcoming place.  The people in the shops I talked to were friendly and cheerful.  The crowds on the streets were friendly and cheerful. Even the queue to get in to Lords was happy.  I’ve never had my bag x-rayed by someone with such a broad grin.  I was thoroughly awash with Olympic spirit before I even got to my seat. 

Lord’s has had a makeover unlike any it’s seen before – they’ve constructed a purpose-built archery arena on the main playing area.  Arrows get fired from the Pavilion End over the square to targets in front of the main press box at the Nursery End.  The archery arena works really well.  The welcoming steward showed me to my seat saying “You’ve got a great seat there – mind you, they’re all pretty good”.  He wasn’t wrong, all 5000 of us (and contrary to some of the media grumbles from elsewhere, there were very few empty seats) had excellent views. I think every seat had an unrestricted view of the archers, the targets and the big screens and scoreboard.

Over the course of a four-hour session in glorious sunshine, we saw eight matches as the men’s team event went from having eight teams, through to an incredibly tense final between Italy and the USA – which the Italians won by scoring a 10 (a bulls-eye) with the final arrow of the event to win by a single point.  I’ve cheered plenty of fours and sixes at Lords – Saturday was the first time I’d cheered tens.  And to top it off, we got to see the medals awarded and to cheer the Italian national anthem.

And of course, since the day was perfect – the crowds leaving the ground where good humoured, and the transport both in and away from London worked just as was promised.

To round off the weekend I headed to darkest Surrey to both visit my parents, and to try and see a bit of the Woman’s Cycling Road Race on Sunday.   In addition to climbing it’s way around Box Hill a couple of times, the race organisers had figuring out a route through various parts of Surrey including West Byfleet.  The weather on Sunday didn’t quite live up to the standards it had offered on Saturday – but the folks of Surrey were determined not to let the occasional thunderstorm detract from the chance to cheer on the cyclists as they hurtled at high speed down the roads and lanes of Surrey.  I found a suitable corner where it seemed that the cyclist would need to slow down.

I spent a fun hour standing in the rain (can’t think of having written that too many times) waiting for the cyclists to appear.  The crowds were happy and cheerful despite the rain.  The Olympic volunteers in their official waterproofs and with their official umbrellas were happy and cheerful.  The police escorting the race seemed to thoroughly enjoying their day out too.  

And the cyclists? 

They were moving too fast to figure out if they were enjoying the event at the time – the group, despite having slowed for the corner, went past me in about 7 seconds (just long enough to take a few pictures).  The photos I saw afterwards of Lizzie Armitstead certainly suggest that she’d enjoyed the day overall almost as much as I’d enjoyed the weekend.

A few more of the pictures I took are now on Flickr

Now, where can I get some Olympic tickets for next weekend.

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